NBN Whaaaat?

I still remember the sound of the old, stone-age dial-up internet when I was about 5 or 6 living in suburban Balmain. I was mesmerized by the fact that I could play my Madeline computer game online instead of on a CD rom. It was magical. Fast-forward to living in Robertson in 2007 when we finally got satellite Internet which, to put in politically correct terms, was shite. It would take at least 5—10 minutes to load a web page on a good night (when my brother hadn’t used all the download space in his online gaming) and to have to go through Highschool and the HSC was just painful. Completing an Extension 2 English Major Work with peasant Internet caused me many an emotional breakdown. But not only was the Internet woeful, the mobile reception was just as unbearable. If there was ever an emergency then I don’t know what would have transpired. Not only was our satellite Internet more like a metal disc my grandpa had fashioned, we weren’t even able to apply for ADSL because it wasn’t available in our area and isn’t available still to this day.

Fear not though, for there was a light at the end of this tunnel, in 2013 my family and I moved to Berrima with, wait for it … ADSL2 lightening speed Internet with 200GB of downloads. The possibilities are endless. I can access social media, watch online lectures and stream movies in a flash. It’s amazing as to what a difference fast-internet can make to your lifestyle especially that of a Uni student. I’ve really noticed this change since having to access links and lectures and other Uni related sources online.

As I said before, our current internet plan is ADSL2 which is provided through the Telstra network and the devices we currently have in our household include: 2 mobiles on Telstra plans, 2 mobiles on prepaid plans (Optus and Telstra), 4 Ipads, 2 laptops, 1 desktop computer and 3 TV sets plus 1 Playstation 2 console. All of which are used to primarily access the Internet for social media. The only person in our family who doesn’t use any social media is my Dad, whom when I asked him about our broadband access laughed and told me he only uses the internet for checking work emails; he mainly uses the internet at work in his corporate job which involves a lot of internet usage on his mobile, Ipad and desktop. So you can understand why I struggled to extract any information from him but nonetheless I still trudged on to discover more of what my family thinks about broadband in our household. After looking at the Australian Bureau of Statistics information on household Internet usage which states that the internet usage in Australia by age shows that the 65+ age group made up only 46% of internet users from 2012-13 (I guess that’s a good enough excuse Dad, you’re off the hook). Not surprisingly the predominant age group is 15-35 year olds and the highest users being the 15-17 year olds at 97%… which brings me to my younger brother, Zac (15).

Now Zac just epitomizes the stereotypical 15-year-old Internet user; since moving from Robertson to our current home, he reckons that his personal Internet usage has at least tripled. He uses the Internet mostly for online gaming and streaming movies, closely after this comes social media and then occasionally Googling things for schoolwork (lol what’s school work). When I asked him about his opinion about the NBN he said: “What’s the NBN? Do we even get it here? I dunno. (audible grumbling) Zac also uses 5 different devices on this network that he has no idea about but still knows every single password for everything in the existence of our house that has an on button. He then proceeded to share this video on “Social Meowdia” with me and left the room.

I then decided to ask my Mum about her thoughts on her Internet access and usage (right after she’d streamed the live feed of the World Equestrian Games from our laptop through the TV- yeah she’s going places in the Internet world) she said that the best thing about internet usage for her, was connecting with her friends and relatives via Facebook and Email (online shopping was a close second, naturally). Mum also uses the Internet for a variety of other maintenance jobs like paying bills, Googling facts to prove the rest of the family wrong, entering horse riding competitions for me and Skyping with overseas friends. Nothing pleases my Mum more than having a conversation with 10 other women in her horse-training group whilst sitting with the rest of us on our devices having conversations with other people or doing assignments (sometimes) and if someone were to walk in the room and switch the TV off none of us would notice because we’re all so enthralled in our devices. Not dissimilar to Sherry Turkle’s description of being “alone together”. Its really the icing on the cake when mum starts a conversation with me online in the process of talking to all these other people whilst sitting next to me on the couch.

The fact that neither Zac nor myself knew very little to nothing about the NBN really speaks volumes about the vague nature of the advertising and explanations from the Government of what this amazing venture to provide everyone in Australia with first class internet access. Well, to put things into perspective, despite the fantastic Internet where we currently are, we still aren’t scheduled or even considered to get the NBN in the near future. So what’s all the hype about? Unless I move to a house where the NBN is connected I may never know… and I’m surprisingly content with that.


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